Variations 1.0.1 AVAILABLE NOW

A software for live electronics and algorithmic composition

Some months ago I’ve started dreaming of a software, a tool made to help me develop evolving musical structures in realtime. What I was looking for was a way to arrange sounds coming from the Buchla synthesizer or any of my softwares, without the use of a classic multitrack audio editor, a realtime tool capable of following precise instructions as well as of using some degree of chance and most importantly, capable of rearranging every parameter involved at the touch of a button in million ways. My musical research is strongly linked to the poetics of the “open work” (Umberto Eco – Opera Aperta, 1962) wherefore I am deeply fascinated by the idea of music as a constantly evolving process rather than a fixed path. As a basis for this new software there are two very different musical discoveries (some may say antithetical): 1) The idea of a music the outcome of which is not foreseen, a fundamental theme of experimental music which was given birth by the “New York school” (Cage, Brown, Feldman) and 2) The formal organization of sound structures that use internal homothety and avoid repetition, theorized by the European composers of post-war serialism (Eimert, Stockhausen, Evangelisti and so on). To these two I’ve added a third possible approach, very common among modular synthesizer musicians: improvisation.

Variations blends experimental music and serialism together into a powerful tool able to arrange a single music piece in more than 319 million ways at the click of a button.

In many ways, Variations is the perfect companion of Gleetchlab and Berna.
Gleetchlab and Berna deal with sound manipulation and creation, Variations deals with sound organization. It’s a composition tool.

The concept is simple. The software has 4 tracks. Each track uses 12 unique “cells” – i.e. non looping samples – for a total of 48 cells.
These samples can be recorded in realtime or loaded from your hard disk. A cell can be an improvisation part, or a tone row that follows the classic dodecaphonic rules, or concrete sounds.

At the basis of the software there is a sequence of numbers (a sort of musical DNA) that rule every part of the composition; these are 12 non-repeating numbers (called the original row) from 0 to 11, ordered in any way you want (randomly too). This row is then automatically permuted with the classic twelve tone technique into a “serial matrix”: a magic square made of 12 rows. Each row can be read sequentially by the software from left to right (Prime Rows), from right to left (Retrograde Rows), from top to bottom (Inversion Rows), or from bottom to top (Retrograde of Inversion Rows).

Each one of the 4 tracks has 8 “serialized” parameters (i.e. each parameter is sequentially controlled by a row) to variate the track.
The parameters define: (still work in progress!) the the cell number sequence, cell’s pitch/duration, delay/feeddback, LPF cutoff, a parameter of a VST plugin, the distance (amplitude) and pan. The spatialization can be stereophonic, quadraphonic or octophonic.

Despite the dodecaphonic heritage, the software is easy to use also for non trained musicians.

Note for trained musicians
I’ve changed the notation of the rows (p0, p1, p2 etc) so that the row index follows the position of the 0 and not the order of permutation.

 

REQUIREMENTS
Mac Intel machine running OS X 10.5 or later, and 1 GB RAM.

PLEASE TRY BEFORE YOU BUY

Variations 1.0.1 UPDATED! : If you have downloaded V1.0 please download again now.

DOWLOAD (MAX OSX) DEMO

Music for Kenneth Anger

Real-time film performances chapter 1

Music for Kenneth Anger is the first chapter in a trilogy of performances dedicated to the American avant-garde cinema.
The performance was held at Milan’s LOFT 21 on February 26th 2011 and hosted by the Inlandempire Project.

During the performance the movie “Inaguration of the Pleasure Dome” was screened.

Kenneth Anger (born Kenneth Wilbur Anglemeyer; February 3, 1927) is an American underground experimental filmmaker, actor and author of two controversial Hollywood Babylon books. Working exclusively in short films, he has produced almost forty works since 1937, nine of which have been grouped together as the “Magick Lantern Cycle”, and form the basis of Anger’s reputation as one of the most influential independent filmmakers in cinema history. His films variously merge surrealism with homoeroticism and the occult, and have been described as containing “elements of erotica, documentary, psychodrama, and spectacle.” Anger himself has been described as “one of America’s first openly gay filmmakers, and certainly the first whose work addressed homosexuality in an undisguised, self-implicating manner”, and his “role in rendering gay culture visible within American cinema, commercial or otherwise, is impossible to overestimate”, with several being released prior to the legalisation of homosexuality in the United States. He has also focused upon occult themes in many of his films, being fascinated by the notorious English occultist Aleister Crowley, and is a follower of Crowley’s religion, Thelema.

Born to a middle-class family in Santa Monica, California, Anger would later claim to have been a child actor who appeared in the film A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935); the accuracy of this claim has come under dispute. He began making short films when he was ten years old, although his first film to gain any recognition, the homoerotic Fireworks (1947), would only be produced a decade later. The controversial nature of the work led to him being put on trial on obscenity charges, but he was acquitted. A friendship and working relationship began subsequently with pioneering sexologist Alfred Kinsey. Moving to Europe, Anger produced a number of other shorts inspired by the artistic avant-garde scene on the continent, such as Rabbit’s Moon (released 1970) and Eaux d’Artifice (1953).

Returning to the United States in 1953, he set about working on several new projects, including the films Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954), Scorpio Rising (1964), Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965), and the gossip book Hollywood Babylon (1965). Getting to know several notable countercultural figures of the time, including Tennessee Williams, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Marianne Faithfull and Anton LaVey, Anger involved them in his subsequent Thelemite-themed works, Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969) and Lucifer Rising (1972). Following his failure to produce a sequel to Lucifer Rising, Anger retired from filmmaking in the early 1980s, instead publishing the book Hollywood Babylon II (1982). At the dawn of the 21st century he once more returned to filmmaking, producing shorts for various film festivals and events.

Anger has described filmmakers such as Auguste and Louis Lumière, Georges Méliès, and Maya Deren as influences,[4] and has been cited as an important influence on later film directors like Martin Scorsese, David Lynch
and John Waters. He has also been described as having “a profound impact on the work of many other filmmakers and artists, as well as on music video as an emergent art form using dream sequence, dance, fantasy, and narrative.

Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome
Anger created two other versions of this film in 1966 and the late 1970s. According to Anger, the film takes the name “pleasure dome” from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s atmospheric poem Kubla Khan. Anger was inspired to make the film after attending a Halloween party called “Come as your Madness.”
Early prints of the film had sequences that were meant to be projected on three different screens. Anger subsequently re-edited the film to layer the images. The film – primarily the 2nd and 3rd revisions – was often shown in American universities and art galleries during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
The film reflects Anger’s deep interest in Thelema, the philosophy of Aleister Crowley and his followers, as indicated by Cameron’s role as “The Scarlet Woman” (an honorific Crowley bestowed on certain of his important magical partners).
The film uses some footage of the Hell sequence from the 1911 Italian silent film L’Inferno. Near the end, scenes from Anger’s earlier film Puce Moment are interpolated into the layered images and faces.

Cast

  • Samson de Brier as Shiva, Osiris, Nero, Cagliostro, and Aleister Crowley (credited as “The Great Beast 666”)
  • Marjorie Cameron as The Scarlet Woman and Kali
  • Joan Whitney as Aphrodite
  • Katy Kadell as Isis
  • Renate Druks as Lilith
  • Anaïs Nin as Astarte
  • Curtis Harrington as Cesare the sleepwalker
  • Kenneth Anger as Hecate
  • Paul Mathison as Pan
  • Peter Loome as Ganymede

Project Audioscan: transforming city noise into music

“Audioscan embodies the confluence of three stages of modern music technology: tape recording, electronic synthesis and processing, and personal-computer-based digital audio. It starts with recordings of street sounds, turns those into electronic instruments processed by electronic effects, and then creates the final composition in a digital audio workstation. Although all the steps (except final mixdown, which uses analog tape) were realized using modern digital technology, the result is very much in the spirit of the evolution of electronic music over the last half century.
The mid-20th-century advent of recording on magnetic tape enabled composers to record fragments of natural and industrial sounds and then manipulate those recordings in a process that became known as Music Concrête. Common tape manipulations included creating tape loops to continuously repeat a sound fragment, splicing disparate sounds together, reversing the tape to play sounds backward, juxtaposing two different-length loops of the same sound, varying playback speed, and so on.

The Audioscan project begins with recordings made at 1,580 streets and squares in Milano.

Electronic-music techniques (on which more in a moment) were used to fashion playable musical instruments from the street recordings. In another step reminiscent of early tape composition, those instruments were then used to create melody, percussion, and background-ambience loops in the digital audio workstation Ableton Live. Tape technology makes its final appearance at the end of the process, when the finished composition is mastered on a TEAC A-3340 tape machine.
Although electro-mechanical processes occasionally appear in music as early as the late 19th century, the modern technology of electronic music derives from advances in electronics made during World War II and from the beginnings of digital computing. In the 1950s and 60s most electronic music was realized, at great time and expense, in commercial and academic laboratories. The processes developed during that period informed the design of the commercial electronic instruments that appeared over the next 30 years and of the personal-computer music software that evolved thereafter.

Building the 50 or so musical instruments used in Audioscan bears a direct lineage to early electronic composition. For one thing the process was labor intensive—each of the notes for each of the instruments was hand crafted from one of the street recordings. For another, the primary tools, Cycling 74 Max/MSP and Propellerhead Reason/Record, are reminiscent of early computer and modular-synthesis tools. Max, the precursor to Max/MSP, is named in honor of Bell Labs computer-music pioneer Max Mathews. It is a graphic programming language designed originally for controlling electronic instruments and then expanded (the MSP in Max/MSP) to also generate and manipulate audio. Propellerhead Reason/Record, although not modeled after a specific device, is a software implementation of a modular synthesizer augmented with the latest digital audio sampling and processing technology.

Audioscan Art Director Giorgio Sancristoforo built a custom processor in Max/MSP called Translator that he and collaborator Guiseppe Cordaro used to translate the street recordings into musical instruments. Translator is a resonant filter bank whose 46 filter bands are tuned at harmonic intervals, the same frequency relationship that characterizes the overtones of the strings on a stringed instrument such as a violin or piano. For each note on each instrument, one of the street recordings is processed through Translator, tuned to the pitch of the desired note.
Processing the street recordings in this way is one of the more ingenious facets of Audioscan. Because the street recordings capture not just random noise but include sonic events such as car horns, shouts, construction noises, and so on, Translator affects each of the recordings differently. That’s what allows many distinctive instruments to be fashioned from the original recordings.

Playable electronic instruments were constructed from the Translator-processed sounds using the sampler modules in Reason. Each of the pitched instruments has a four-octave range. In addition, a variety of percussion sounds were created for use in Reason’s Redrum drum sampler. The sampled instruments were then augmented by the many effects processors available in Reason.
Finally, the processed percussion and pitched instruments were used to generate music loops. Additional ambient sounds were fashioned from the street recordings using another Sancristoforo Max/MSP creation, Gleetchlab 3. The individual loops were then arranged to create the final composition in Ableton Live, bringing the process full-circle to the tape-loop paradigm.

Of course, the music is not in the technical details—the composition needs to stand on its own. Audioscan presents a broad sonic palette; you’ll hear many different instruments ranging from tuned percussion to wind instruments to complex tonal washes. Some sections of Audioscan are floating and ethereal, whereas others are driving, rhythmic, and almost danceable. It is a testament to Audioscan’s creators that, starting with field recordings of street noises, they’ve fashioned a highly varied hour of music that holds together as a cohesive unit. ”

Len Sasso
April 2010

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Audioscan is a multimedia interactive installation and a live performance combining music and video including 1.580 recordings and phonometric surveys gathered within the perimeter contained in the main ring road of Milano. Both are based on the sound mapping of Milano. Audioscan puts itself up as a chance to reflect on the features of the sound surrounding us and the spaces we act in. A process of meeting and exchange between contemporary art, music and environmental themes, a meditation on soundscape and the auditive dimension of human experience, both on an aesthetic and a social perspective. An ambitious cataloguing work and an awakening project through the transformation of a waste product of technological society – noise – into an artwork.

Lets consider a city Milano and try to listen to it, in its wholeness. Millions of vehicles and machines stirring chaotically, punctuating the rhythm of our affairs on Earth. We deem this ocean of unwelcome sounds mostly as noise. This soundscape eludes our control: we barely rectify it, yet we cant give it up, since its embodied in the truck carrying our food, in the tram taking us to work, in the construction site building our houses. Its the sound of contemporaneity.
Sounds can be sculpted. We can use noise as raw material to start with. Noise is at the same time no sound and all the possible sounds. Just as white light contains all the colours, noise contains countless sounds.
Therefore, instead of using musical instruments we have ground and crumbled noise in very fine components, building from these elements orchestras made up of roads and airplanes, people and
cars. We have created music from a scrap of our society.
Everything is transformed. Nothing resembles anymore its former essence. Airplanes become microscopic percussions, cars are turned into metallic pianos, hollow murmurs and waterish illusions. Braking and tailpipes screeches become tides of the thinnest strings.
Concept and art direction
Giorgio Sancristoforo
Music
Giorgio Sancristoforo e Giuseppe Cordaro
Video
Quayola
Production
AGON
Basemental
Organizational
Danilo Cardillo
Tech consultant
Massimo Marchi
Field recording
Diego Del Sarto
Alessandro Roggero
Luca DAloia
Eliana Varlaro
Dario Persi
Daniele Filaretti
Software & sound design
Giorgio Sancristoforo
Assistant sound designers
Diego Del Sarto
Alessandro Roggero
Touchscreen software
Daniele Pagliero
Catalog
Postmediabooks
Production assistants
Cecilia Vanoletti
Walter DAversa
Thanks to
Dalila Sena
Pietro Pirelli
Vittoria Broggini
Silvia Sartorio
Len Sasso
Simone Tosoni
Marco Fringuellino
Massimo Gardella
Olindo Genovese


PRESS
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